Thursday, 24 March 2011

Rytis Mazulis

This won't be the last time ATTSWOH features Rytis Mazulis. Described as a 'superminimalist', this Lithuanian composer is responsible for some of the most exciting music currently produced. Mazulis works with canons, piling them atop one another until they shudder into your brain like a jackhammer. Check 'Clavier of Pure Reason' from his album of 'computer piano music', Twittering Machine:

Upon it's release I described Twittering Machine thus (from Grooves magazine):
Rytis Mazulis: Twittering Machine
Megadisc Classics MDC7809

Finding your way through the cascade of notes of Rytis Mazulis' "Twittering Machine" is like being caught blindfolded in a whirlpool, and as difficult as finding a white space on the pages of his scores. Labelled a "superminimalist", the Lithuanian composer uses repetition in a manner not dissimilar to pioneering minimalists Glass and Reich, but doesn't share their interest in melodic simplicity or phasing. Rather, Mazulis constructs wildly chaotic cells which only become more complex with each passing cycle. There is a symmetry to these revolutions, but it's fractured, with intervals broken into irrational micro-durations, making sense in the way chaos theory does.

"Twittering Machine" comes from the composer's early 'machinistic' period, applying regimented pulse, fast pace and repetition to medieval canonic forms (an ongoing fascination of Mazulis') with such intricacy and vigour that they are humanly impossible to perform. The four pieces here are electronic in that they are "performed" on/by a computer-piano ("Clavier of Pure Reason", for example, imagines a super-pianist with 48 hands), but electronics are merely a means to an end. The most obvious reference is Conlon Nancarrow and his player piano studies, only Mazulis' work is much more visceral and jagged and, being played on a modern disklavier piano, offers a richer, more resonant sound. The opening movement of the two part "Twittering Machine" contains the disc's most gripping riff, an almost hummable tune of dissonant zig-zagging notes which, after numerous cycles, sticks in the brain like a fishhook. Part II splits a Nancarrow saloon rag into multiple conflicting streams, a clumsy bass line thumped out with fists contrasting with families of fireflies dancing on the high notes. Snatches of tangible melody are heard briefly in "Ex Una Voce" only to be quickly subsumed in chords so thick they become blurred. The final, 20 minute "Hanon Virtualis" sets up continually expanding rows of ascending scales, piling canon upon canon until every note on the keyboard is violently and simultaneously struck. This is what being clubbed to death by 88 small padded hammers must feel like - some of the most powerful music I've heard in years.

The Belgian Megadisc Classics label are responsible for most of his releases, and I'm anxious to hear his new one, Musica Falsa, for the solo flute of Manuel Zurria.
All Mazulis' albums are outstanding, buy them all here.

No comments:

Post a Comment